One Year of Total Isolation of Abdullah Ocalan on Imrali

Press statement. International Initiative. 27th July 2012.
One Year of Total Isolation of Ocalan on Imrali. For one year the Turkish AKP government has been keeping the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan in total isolation on the prison island of Imrali.

The last visit of lawyers to Abdullah Ocalan and his five fellow prisoners took place on 27 July 2011. Ever since they have been cut off from the outside world. Neither family members nor lawyers are allowed to visit. Telephone calls or written communication are also not possible.

Even in Turkish law – which does not tend to be soft on political prisoners – there is no legal basis for this total isolation. Each week flimsy excuses like defect vessel or bad weather are cited to prevent the due visits from happening.

However, Prime Minister Erdogan as well as Minister of Justice Ergin have both stated publicly that it is the government who blocks every visit. This demonstrates the complete arbitrariness of the AKP government whose representatives publicly defend breaches of the law as soon as Kurdish matters are concerned.

Another scandalous development was the detention of Ocalan’s complete defence team of 36 lawyers who have been in jail for more than half a year now. The real scandal however is the silence of the foreign countries.

The European Convention on Human Rights is valid in 47 states. For Kurds, it seems, it is not. At least not for Abdullah Ocalan. The Council of Europe delegates the responsibility for the scandal prison on Imrali Island to the powerless anti-torture committee (CPT) and deliberately ignores the matter otherwise. Even the much-appraised European Court for Human Rights was so far not able to determine the fact of isolation.

The European Union appears far to busy building up Turkey as a model country for the Arab world to care for “shop-accidents” like the conflict between the Turkish state and its Kurdish citizens. In the Syria crisis Ankara appears far too important for EU and NATO to press it for human rights and rule of law in Turkey.

The West acts Janus-faced, but this will backfire as soon as Syrian Kurds, at the eve of the emerging of a new Kurdish autonomous region, shall take their place in a new Syria. They will not forget this hypocritical approach to the Kurdish issue. Even in a Turkish context Ocalan’s total isolation doesn’t make sense.

It was him who was able to urge the Kurdish guerilla to hold up several cease-fires. His constructive proposals for a political solution, laid out in his Road Map, formed the basis of the 3-year negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. A solution to the conflict was within grasp; Recep Tayyip Erdogan stopped the negotiations abruptedly and stepped up the attacks against Kurdish civil society. This solved none of the problems but created new ones.

The clashes between Kurdish guerilla and Turkish army have rekindled, the situation seems muddy.

But even Erdogan will have to realise that the Kurdish issue can only be solved through dialogue. Therefore the negotiations have to be resumed to prevent further bloodshed.

Ocalan’s actions throughout the last years have proven that the Kurdish leader is able to play a balancing role regarding Turkish and Kurdish interests.

This balance is the precondition for a lasting peace which is acceptable for both sides. The ball is now in the Turkish government’s court to put things on track.

Abdullah Ocalan’s release as a vital contribution to the solution of the conflict is therefore inevitable. Cologne, 27 July 2012

International Initiative
Freedom for Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan
P.O. Box 100511, D-50445 Koeln
Telephone: +49 221 130 15 59
Fax: +49 221 790 76 10 30
Cologne, 27 July 2012